Fresh doubts about the mooted $70 billion merger between Glencore (LON:GLEN) and Xstrata (LON:XTA), sent shares of both the Swiss commodity trader and the coal giant down the slope on Thursday in London following a Financial Times (subs. required) report. The article states that Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund has publicly said it will vote against the deal next week.
Last June, Qatar Holding – which owns close to 11% of Xstrata – unexpectedly opposed the deal’s terms, but it wasn’t until Thursday night that the group announced its definitive decision.
“QH believes that Xstrata has a strong future, whether in combination with Glencore on acceptable terms or as a stand-alone entity, and that its shares represent an attractive long-term investment,” the fund said.
Also on Thursday FT reported that Norway had joined Qatar in opposing to the proposed blockbuster merger, sending Glencore shares plummeting 3.70% in early trading to 369.8 pence and Xstrata diving 2.35% to 917.1 pence on London’s FTSE 100 index of top companies.
Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM) has spent more than $500 million in recent weeks buying shares of Xstrata, taking its total stake in the miner to 2.97% the newspaper said.
This way, the Norwegian fund is now the fourth-largest shareholder in Xstrata, after Glencore, Qatar and Blackrock.
In March, industry regulators in the European Union were one of the first to say they didn’t believe the merger would happen this year. This happened after steelmakers and other European players raised fears that the deal could create too powerful a player in the market for zinc, nickel and coal.
With revenues in excess of $100 billion Glenstrata, as it has been dubbed, would become the 4th largest miner on the planet with Xstrata’s current management responsible for over 80% of the combined group’s earnings, 150 mining and metallurgical assets and 20 major growth projects.
Xstrata shareholders will vote on the proposed $30 billion takeover of miner Xstrata by Glencore on Friday next week at an extraordinary general meeting in Zug, Switzerland.
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